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Shelby Lynne

Revelation Road – 2011 (Everso)

Reviewed by Brian Baker

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CDs by Shelby Lynne

It's not too difficult to imagine Shelby Lynne producing her last few albums at the dawn of her career. She was fiercely independent even then and every bit as influenced by Dusty Springfield when she started as she is today. And yet, it's almost as if Lynne divined from the universe that she needed to experience the ridiculous corporate soap opera of her first few albums and be galvanized in the forge of label mismanagement and creative experimentation before tentatively finding her own musical identity and a measure of control on her 2000 breakthrough "I Am Shelby Lynne," the album that ironically won her the Best New Artist Grammy.

After a trio of albums that vacillated between self-control ("Identity Crisis" "Suit Yourself") and self indulgence ("Love, Shelby"), Lynne returned to her core influences and turned out the Dusty Springfield tribute, "Just a Little Lovin'," a sparse and beautiful example of her incredible ability to inhabit other songwriters' work.

On her third self-released album, "Revelation Road," Lynne makes a similar point with her own songs. There's a hint of Lynne's emotional and musical philosophy on I Want to Go Back when she croons, "I want to go back so I can run away again," words and melody coming together to deliver a sweet melancholy. Like the bulk of her recent work, Lynne's songs and execution on "Revelation Road" transcend country music, folding in elements of pop, soul and folk and crafting a hybridized sound that actually steers closer to the intention of country than most of what passes the genre's test these days. From the soulful quiver of I'll Hold Your Head to the Bonnie Raitt blues/pop balladry of Even Angels and Lead Me Love to the tough/tender guitar lope of Woebegone, Lynne glides effortlessly through this set of heartfelt tracks bearing her unmistakable signature. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that Lynne wrote, performed and produced "Revelation Road" on her own, potent proof that she should have been left alone a whole lot sooner.